Witnesses say player felt faint, had blurred vision and could hardly speak or move.
Milan forward Antonio Cassano was taken ill on Saturday evening at Malpensa airport on his way back from Rome. He was admitted to Milan’s polyclinic.
Mystery shrouds the exact nature of Cassano’s illness and the club has erected a wall of silence to ensure the player’s privacy. Cassano’s wife Carolina was at his side in hospital for almost the whole of Sunday. Others aboard the aircraft say that during the flight Cassano got out of his seat to laugh and joke with teammates. Then as he walked across the tarmac to the shuttle bus, the Bari-born playmaker looked faint, tired and disoriented, had difficulty speaking and moving, and complained of blurred vision. At first, it was thought that he had had a sudden drop in blood pressure or been the victim of a violent intestinal virus. Clearly, it was more than a run-of-the-mill attack of flu so he was taken immediately to the polyclinic for tests. “The lad is not well and we are looking into it”, was the laconic comment from club doctor Rodolfo Tavana, who was at Cassano’s bedside from the moment he went into hospital on Saturday evening. The player is believed to have gone home in the early hours of Sunday morning but was taken ill again. He was admitted to the polyclinic’s neurology ward, where he will remain until Monday for further tests, which it is hoped will shed light on the causes of the episode.
Cassano’s state of health is not thought to be serious and his clinical situation is reported to be improving. The symptoms that prompted hospitalisation – blurred vision, disorientation, fatigue, difficulty in speaking – are said to have been resolved. Nevertheless, a temporary break from football may be necessary so doctors can carry out further tests and identify the cause of the illness with certainty.
The Milan playmaker was on the pitch for the final quarter of an hour, earning congratulations from the club’s CEO, Adriano Galliano, who remarked that “the match shorts that were specially made up for him in the summer are falling round his ankles”. But then came the mystery illness. Clearly, Cassano will not be travelling to Minsk for Tuesday’s Champions League game against BATE Borisov. Coach Massimiliano Allegri may also have to do without Kevin Prince Boateng, who managed to get himself red-carded in Rome for insulting the referee’s assistant (“He has another version. We’ll talk it over in the family in Milanello”, said Adriano Galliani) and picked up a bruised ankle.
That’s the end of the bad news. The good news is that the Rossoneri racked up their fourth straight Serie A win, again putting on an impressive display of attacking strength. True, Roma’s two goals could have been avoided. Keeper Christian Abbiati admitted his faults and the defence will have to improve. But as long as the goals keep coming, Milan is flying high. “I don’t see many sides bothering us if we are playing like this”, said Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the game. The Swede bagged a brace to take his total for the season to four and is now looking forward to BATE Borisov, who have just won the Belarus championship for the sixth time in a row. “It’s an important game and we can’t take it lightly”.